I haven’t really started to use this blog properly, but I thought it would be a good place to put my articles and musings. The excerpt below is a piece of work I did for The Tab Article. Its an attempt to connect with other students about my situation. I first decided to write the article following a conversation with a classmate. It was that first ‘getting to know you’ conversation; hi how are you, what do you study, are you a member of HistSoc…. When I said know he questioned why and I said I probably wouldn’t go to any of the events, he asked why again… Its remarkable how quickly into a conversation having a son comes up. I’m not ashamed of being a mother, but his response to me replying that I had a son at home and I didn’t really have the same flexibility as most students… was predictable, he just said ‘oh.. wow… um… okay..’ then turned around and started a conversation with somebody else. I know my situationis unusual, but being ignored and excluded because of it is quite upsetting really. The article was an attempt to breakdown these unspoken boundaries by showing that I understood that they felt awkward but really I am just another student and don’t deserve to be treated like an outsider
I recognise this is probably an alien subject to most people. Babies, well toddlers now, the simple fact is that in and amongst the students you see around campus everyday are in fact full time parents of such creatures. I happen to be one of those. Im sure you’ve all watched enough episodes of Teen mom to recognise that having a baby at 18 is not exactly a walk in the park but I feel its time to set the story from the studying mums point of view
I finished my final A level exam 36 weeks pregnant, a month after my 18th birthday, my stomach was so big I barely fit under the desk. I gave birth to my beautiful 8lb son, and yes Labour was the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life, but it was also liberating and powerful, to see what my body was truly capable of. Having a baby is both physically and emotionally demanding, as a newborn they wake every 2/3 hours and have in built sensors that know exactly who to push you right to the edge of insanity before smiling as if to say ‘what on earth were you worried about’. I reapplied for uni’s during my gap year/maternity year and started Leeds when my son was 14 months old. Before falling pregnant I knew that I wanted to go to University and figured, why the hell not? Before starting uni I had now idea how my double life was going to work. I knew that technically it was plausible, I did theoretically have enough hours in the day to be both mum and uni student but I was more worried about the mental strain of such a full schedule.
My day to day schedule is busy. No need for an alarm in this household, toddler wakes between 6.30-7am every morning. Yes every morning, no lie ins, ever, not even on a Sunday morning. Im generally awoken with the words ‘mummy wake up, need a wee’ before dressing, feeding and walking an un cooperative 2 year old to the nursery down the road before getting on a train and going to lectures/seminars. Being a mum is time and energy consuming, you spend your every waking moment plagued by guilt for leaving him in Nursery, and then when your at home and especially on weekends your conscious that you’re neglecting your uni work.
The key to living the double life is organisation and efficiency. I spend all of the time I have available on campus in the library doing readings and essay prep. Yes I do start writing my essays 4 weeks early, but If I didn’t I wouldn’t finish them on time. Doing this allows me to spend all of the time I’m not at uni doing cool stuff with my 2.5 year old. We love going on day trips to museums, farms, parks, play gyms. Being a parent means you also get to be a big kid again. I get to hang out in ball pools on a weekend and watch disney films at the cinema.
But perhaps, for me the true unspoken story of being a Uni mum is just how rewarding it is. I have no time to spare but thats because of all my time is focused upon spending time with the pint sized person I love so intently and studying the subject I’m truly passionate about, and if results are anything to go by, relatively successfully!
So in conclusion, I havent been on an Otley run, or to Fruity or Mint. But I am addicted to Instagram, enjoy drinking copious amounts of wine, and can Netflix and Chill like a pro. Im not very hip (Or edgy, whatever ever that means) and alas my body is that of a middle aged woman, with a stomach full of stretch marks. But I am incredibly happy, you’ll find me around campus just thrilled to be here. Having a baby certainly puts everything into a distinct perspective, it gives you a sense of purpose and direction. I had to fight to be here at university and make the most of every day. I know where I want to go with my life and i have a reason to keep working hard and napping harder.
Due to the hectic nature and limited time on campus its often very difficult to make connections with other people, I have the opportunities to make friends on my course but no automatic friendship groups that you find in halls or in societies. Its for this reason i’d like to take this opportunity to ask the general student population; If you know anyone whose university experience is slightly different to your own; if there a parent or young carer or simply live at home, please invite them out to places, a few weeks in advance of course so arrangements can be made, help involve them in